Roger Clemens: Is His Number Still Worthy of Retirement?
It was in 1999 when "The Rocket" landed in New York and found himself in pinstripes. During his time as a Yankee, he accomplished a plethora of feats. He won his first World Series on Oct. 27, 1999, won another ring on Oct. 26, 2000, and won his sixth Cy Young award in 2001, going 20-3 and leading the league in ERA with 2.65.
Clemens also won his 300th game and recorded his 4,000th career strikeout on the same night, June 13, 2003 against the St. Louis Cardinals in front of the Yankee fans in the Bronx. On top of all his accolades as a Yankee, Clemens has appeared in two All-Star games in pinstripes, and even started the game for the American League in 2001's mid-summer classic.
After his so-called "retirement" at the conclusion of the 2003 campaign, Clemens shocked the Yankees by signing with the Houston Astros, where he played for the 2004-2006 campaigns.
Finally in 2007, the Yankees lured him back, and he responded from George Steinbrenner's luxury booth on May 6, 2007. "They came and got me out of Texas...I'll be talking to you real soon," he said to the capacity crowd at the Stadium. Clemens made his return on June 10, 2007, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at home.
At the end of the 2007 season, Clemens did not find himself with a World Series ring, but with a 6-6 record and an elevated 4.18 ERA...and found himself in a bind.
Allegations came out in MLB's Mitchell Report in Dec. 2007 claiming that Clemens used anabolic steroids, was injected by his trainer Brian McNamee, and had been using steroids during the 1998, 2000, and 2001 seasons. Practically overnight, Clemens's spotless, future Hall of Fame resume went right down the tube.
Clemens denied the allegations vehemently. In Jan. of 2008, Clemens appeared on the show 60 Minutes and spoke to host Mike Wallace in an interview. In the interview, he stated that his success in the game of baseball came from hard work, not steroids.
The next month, Clemens and McNamee appeared before a Congressional Committee. Clemens swore under oath that he did not take steroids or HGH. Clemens and McNamee nearly split the committee in half. Some representatives believed Clemens was a liar, and the others felt McNamee was lying.
The questions that the fans and media still face to this day are, did Clemens take steroids? Did he cheat during some of his best years? The National Baseball Hall of Fame has banished Pete Rose for life because he bet on baseball. Will the Hall of Fame banish Clemens for his alleged steroid and HGH usage?
The answers: We may never know for sure. Clemens has said that he does not care what people believe anymore, he does not care about the Hall of Fame, and his numbers speak for themselves.
If nobody else recognizes Clemens's accolades, would the Yankees step in and reward Clemens for his service? I would think there is a chance. It might not be for years and years, after time has healed Clemens's wounds.
The Yankees are a classy organization, known for extending olive branches. The Yankees also believe in second chances. Yogi Berra, one of the most respected and beloved Yankees of all-time, had a falling out with Steinbrenner years ago. Despite their differences, they mended their fences and the Yankees welcomed him back with open arms.
Clemens played six years in the Bronx, and secured an 83-42 record while playing for the Yankees. Reggie Jackson, a Yankee for five years, had his number retired in monument park in 1993, some 12 years after he left the Bronx. Jackson however, has not been accused of steroid usage.
Paul O'Neill's number will most likely be retired. LaTroy Hawkins tried on the number 21 during the 2008 campaign, and the Yankee fans would not have it. No one else will be able to put on that number without the Yankee fans hounding them.
Bernie Williams' number will most likely be retired because of his faithful service, impressive numbers, and post-season home run count. 20, 21, or maybe even 22 years from now, will Clemens, the man who was once regarded as the greatest pitcher of our era, join them? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
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